We are the main cause of canine obesity  —  by overfeeding them, offering too many treats or leftover table food. Puppies may be cute when they plump, but when it comes to canine health, lean is better.

Still, as is true with humans, too many dogs are overweight, according to the Association For Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). In its eighth annual survey of the girth of American pets, released in March 2015, the organisation found that 53 percent of the nation’s dogs are overweight.

1.  Healthy Treats

If you are going to give Fido some extra goodies as an incentive, take note that they do add to your furkid’s calorie intake! One small treat may seem insignificant, but if you feed your pooch a handful of treats a day, imagine how much extra weight he could gain in a month.

There are many pet treats laden with sugar and fat, which is why picking the right types of treats is imperative to keeping your furkid slim and healthy. Make sure you choose low-calorie, sugar-free, functional treats — such as those that help clean their teeth or that boost joint health.

Alternatively, you could break treats into tiny pieces and reward your pet when he earns it, but refrain from “guilt-treating” him because you feel bad about leaving him home alone.

2.  Vital Veggies

If you’d like to switch things up a little and cut down on store-bought treats, you could try offering Fido vegetable options like baby carrots, green beans, celery, broccoli, and cucumbers.

Fruits can also help your pet transition from sweet treats to something healthier — try feeding your furkid slices of apples and bananas for starters. While you’re at it, why not share some baby carrots with your pooch as well?

3.  Keep Walking

Paw-rents know that their furkids are naturally active, so what better way to keep both you and Fido in the pink than to make him your no-excuse exercise buddy? Research has shown that dogs need as little as 20 to 30 minutes of brisk walking to help boost immune function and cardiovascular health.

The extra exercise can help expend your furkid’s activeness and energy, which means less hyperactive behaviour at home.

4. Super Supplements

Just like us humans, there are a couple of supplements that will ensure your furkid stays fit and healthy. Dogs and cats can actually benefit greatly from taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements — the fish oil boasts a potent antioxidant punch that prevents and treats numerous diseases while easing achy joints and encouraging weight loss.

L-carnitine has also been proven to aid in weight loss and promote lean muscle mass as well. Do ask your veterinarian before implementing these supplements in your pet’s diet.

5. Crazy Carbs

Most dogs and cats do not require a high-carbohydrate diet, but paw-rents end up feeding their furkids plenty of carbohydrates. Many food options tend to contain 60 percent or more carbohydrates, so do check the food labels before feeding any commercial food to your furkid.

Switching to a low or no-grain diet with protein sources might help your pudgy pet lose the extra kilos. However, to help Fido transition smoothly, try implementing a high-protein and low-carbohydrate diet before trying anything else.

Do check with your veterinarian before making any diet changes for your furkid.

*This article was updated on 15 Jul 2020. It first appeared in PetsMagazine.com on 28 Dec 2016.